In my role as a Consultant focused on recruiting, coaching and developing Leaders, I think I know a good Leader when I see (i.e. get to know) one. This super-power comes from a combination of my experiences – I’ve worked with several great Leaders and I’ve also had exposure to some pretty bad ones too – and the formal and informal training that I’ve received throughout my career.
However, sometimes for me – and I’ve certainly seen it with hiring managers and clients – it’s hard to guard against that “gut feel” you get when you just know that someone has what it takes to be a successful leader. In short, we’ve all fallen victim to the “I just like ‘em” syndrome that almost never is a predictor of actual results.
Recently, Dan McCarthy shared Three Questions for Potential Managers to Ask Themselves over on his blog Great Leadership. While the three questions Dan posed are good ones an aspiring leader should ponder before pursuing a managerial role (“Why do I want to be a Manager?”, “Do I have what it takes to be successful?” and “What do I want to become?”), I found the listing he shared of predictors of leadership success to be of particular interest. Here’s a snippet from Dan’s post:
We know there are certain skills and attributes that can be demonstrated in a non-managerial role, that if done well, are predictors of managerial success. For example, Development Dimensions International (DDI) has developed a set of criteria that they say will accurately predict executive success, based on their own experience and research, and research by others.
According to DDI, the “right stuff” for future managerial success includes:
- Propensity to lead. They step up to leadership opportunities
- They bring out the best in others
- Authenticity. They have integrity, admit mistakes, and don’t let their egos get in their way
- Receptivity to feedback. They seek out and welcome feedback
- Learning agility
- Adaptability. Adaptability reflects a person’s skill at juggling competing demands and adjusting to new situations and people. A keyhere is maintaining an unswerving, “can do” attitude in the face ofchange
- Navigates ambiguity. This trait enables people to simplify complex issues and make decisions without having all the facts
- Conceptual thinking. Like great chess players and baseball managers,the best leaders always have the big picture in mind. Their ability to think two, three, or more moves ahead is what separates them from competitors
- Cultural fit
- Passion for results
Try assessing yourself against this list of criteria. Better yet, ask your manager and others to assess you. If you’re lacking in any key areas, that’s OK – most of these things can be improved with awareness, practice, and feedback. Other management skills are learned and mastered once in the role and with experience.
While I think most would agree that no checklist of characteristics will be a 100% predictor of future success as a Leader, I like using this approach as a starting point for both individual assessment and for developing some interview questions when selecting individuals for leadership roles. I can think of several ways to get at these qualities through the ever popular “Tell me about a time..” behavioral interviewing questions, but I’m not a big fan of interviews that rely solely upon those types of questions – especially with non-skilled interviewers.
I’m interested in your feedback and ideas in regards to the questions that you ask candidates, or have been asked as a candidate, to identify potential for success as a Leader. What questions would you suggest asking in an interview to assess the leadership qualities listed above?
Hit me in the Comments section with the best questions that either you are asking or have heard and let’s do some crowd-sourcing to come up with a great list. And it’s o.k. to share your best “Tell me about a time…” questions too – just be sure to use them wisely.